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John Carlson expected to return Thursday after returning to top pair in practice

John Carlson expected to return Thursday after returning to top pair in practice

John Carlson has reclaimed his usual spot on the Capitals’ blue line, which probably means he’ll be good to go for Game 1.

Carlson missed the final four games of the regular season with a lower body injury and skated as an extra during Tuesday’s practice.

On Wednesday, however, Carlson was back on the top pair alongside Karl Alzner.

After the hour-long practice, Carlson said he felt better than he did Tuesday but still stopped short of saying he’ll definitely suit up against the Maple Leafs on Thursday.  

“It’s a process,” Carlson said. “I’m part of the decision but I’m not any decision-maker. I’m just doing everything I possibly can to get better and be stronger. But, yeah, I feel good.”

RELATED: 5 players to watch in Caps vs. Leafs series

Carlson said his focus the past two days has been regaining his timing.

“I’ve been away from the team a little bit, so I think that’s the biggest thing, feeling everything out and getting back into the swing of things as far as passing and breakouts, all that stuff,” he said. “Not that it’s a huge deal—I think I can overcome that—but certainly that’s something I was concentrating on.”

Coach Barry Trotz said Carlson’s status for Game 1 had not changed.

“No, same,” he said. “You’ll have to come tomorrow.”

Asked if he thought Carlson looked better in his second practice back with the team, Trotz went into playoff mode.

“I don’t know, how did he look?” Trotz asked jokingly before adding: “No, he was fine. He was fine the last two days. Looked fine.”

Trotz continued: “He’s been a big part in the last three years since I’ve been here. He’s been a high producer. He’s been a quality defenseman. …He’s a big part of what we do.”

The Caps were already huge favorites in this series. Getting their ice-time leader back into the fold only figures to increase the gap between the teams.

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals vs. Maple Leafs round one preview

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Capitals at Wild: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals at Wild: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Capitals head to the midwest Sunday to take on the Minnesota Wild. The Caps' offense struggled against the Jets on Thursday, but as new players continue to gel and with the celebration of Alex Ovechkin’s 700th goal behind them, all eyes will be on the Caps to see what they do next. 

Here is everything you need to know about the matchup, which takes place at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.

CAPITALS VS. WILD GAME 65: HOW TO WATCH 

WHAT: Washington Capitals vs. Minnesota Wild

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota

When: Sunday, March 1, 7:00 E.T. 

TV Channel: The Capitals at Wild game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Wild on NBC Sports Washington's Live stream page and on the NBC Sports App

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at WILD: INJURY REPORT

Wild: Luke Kunin: Upper-body

Wild: Carson Soucy: Upper-body

CAPITALS vs. WILD TV SCHEDULE 

7:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

7:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

8:00 PM: Capitals vs. Jets (LIVE)

10:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live 

11:00 PM: Chasing Greatness

11:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS at WILD: PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (43-17-60): Fresh off the celebration of his 700th goal, everyone will be looking to Ovi to keep the energy going. 

Jared Spurgeon, D, Wild, (10-18-28): Since Jan. 18, Spurgeon has scored eight goals, the most among NHL defensemen. The Caps need to keep an eye on him, both the defense and offense. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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New Capital Brenden Dillon doesn't miss a beat during pregame handshakes

New Capital Brenden Dillon doesn't miss a beat during pregame handshakes

Prior to Thursday night's game against the Jets, the Capitals got ready by partaking in a pregame ritual of handshakes, and it seems new Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon already has it down.

The Capitals are already known for having an impressive number of pregame handshakes, but with the addition of Dillion at the trade deadline, it seems things have become even more complicated. 

In the video of a hallway at Winnipeg's stadium, Dillon is seen fist-bumping a few of his teammates, fixing his hair with Carl Hagelin, giving a little more intricate handshake to Tom Wilson and tapping sticks with Alex Ovechkin. 

While all of this is going on, more players in the back of the video start doing their own handshakes. Glad to see Dillon fitting in so well with his new teammates.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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